We want to be Mary for the world and bring Mary to the world. Father Kentenich understood that we can best fulfil this mission for our modern times as a Secular Institute, a new type of community in the Church that is meant to be a bridge between the world and God. We are not a traditional Religious Congregation or Order, but we do belong to the state of consecrated life in the Church. As such we dedicate ourselves totally to God promising a life of poverty, virginity, and obedience.
A Marian Style of Life
Our Marian consecration entails a Marian style of life. The promise to live the evangelical counsels which we make through the contract-consecration is lived in an outspokenly Marian way. Mary was the perfect disciple of Jesus, following him more closely than any other human being. Thus we ask her to show us how to follow Christ closely in poverty, virginity, and obedience.
A Life of Poverty
Our style of poverty is Marian. Just as Christ himself was the treasure of the Blessed Mother, so he should also be our entire treasure. We want our hearts to be attached to him, not to material things. Our Lady possessed material things, but she used them in the service of Christ and the Father. As individual sisters we strive to do the same. As a community, we try to live a simple lifestyle with regard to clothing, possessions, our outward appearance etc. At the same time we strive for inner and outward beauty and harmony after the example of Mary.
Our style of poverty is also apostolic. As a community we possess whatever is needed to work meaningfully with the people of our time, but we strive to be inwardly free and independent of these possessions.
A Life of Virginity
Our style of virginity is Marian. She, the Blessed Virgin Mary conceived without original sin and full of grace, is our model. Our founder wanted us to see virginity not only as the renunciation of marriage, but also as the high goal of becoming like Mary, the Immaculate one, whose being was in complete harmony. She had a clear mind, a strong will and an ordered heart. Her lower drives and passions were subject to the fullness of grace that was hers. In our surrender to God we strive to radiate these features of the “Immaculata” as far as this is possible for us human beings on earth.
Our style of obedience is, likewise, Marian. Mary was open and receptive to the Father’s will as she discovered it through people, things and situations. She was ready to obey his wishes with great love and generosity of heart, with noble-mindedness and magnanimity. This is the level of obedience that we also reach out for, not asking, “What do I have to do?” but rather, “How can I give the Father joy?”
Intense Spiritual Formation
Because of the high degree of inner freedom and generosity that our vocation requires, it is part of our community’s structure that the members receive as much spiritual formation as possible, not only during the official times of formation, but throughout our lives as sisters. Utmost time and effort are spent in securing -
- deeper growth into our spirituality, into a personal relationship with God and knowledge of our faith and of Schoenstatt;
- motivation and inspiration for one another in our striving for holiness;
- fostering of a rich and joyful community life that lifts us into the spiritual and supernatural
This spiritual formation is meant to safeguard and increase our interior freedom so that we can remain faithful to our contract-consecration.
As a Secular Institute, Father Kentenich wanted us to strive for holiness with the same means that are available to the laity, to everyone in the Church. Therefore we do not make public vows as the Religious do, but we seal a contract-consecration. In that way we can be a model for the laity, to help them see that it is possible to become holy without the help and protection of the vow. For us, our consecration to Mary in Schoenstatt’s covenant of love is our promise to live a life of poverty, virginity, and obedience. Mary becomes the guardian of our vocation in an extraordinary way – she is the one who secures our faithfulness.
Together with this Marian consecration, we also sign a contract with the community. In the contract we promise obedience to the community and faithfulness to our contract-consecration. During the years of formation, the sisters sign the contract for a limited time, just as the Religious make a temporary vow. At the end of the time of formation, we sign our final contract, promising to be faithful forever. This final commitment is coupled with a deepening of our Marian consecration, our total self-surrender to Our Lady, our Blessed Mother!